Numerical calculations of disposal room configurations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, NM are presented. Specifically, the behavior of either crushed salt or a crushed salt-bentonite mixture, when used as a backfill material in disposal rooms, is modeled in conjunction with the creep behavior of the surrounding intact salt. The backfill consolidation model developed at Sandia National Laboratories was implemented into the SPECTROM-32 finite element program. This model includes nonlinear elastic as well as deviatoric and volumetric creep components. Parameters for the models were determined from laboratory tests with deviatoric and hydrostatic loadings. The performance of the intact salt creep model previously implemented into SPECTROM-32 is well documented.
Results from the SPECTROM-32 analyses were compared to a similar study conducted by Sandia National Laboratories using the SANCHO finite element program. The calculated deformations and stresses from the SPECTROM-32 and SANCHO analyses agree reasonably well despite differences in constitutive models and modeling methodology. These results provide estimates of the backfill consolidation through time. The trends in the backfill consolidation can then be used to estimate the permeability of the backfill and subsequent radionuclide transport.